MAPPA population keeps rising

There are more offenders being managed under MAPPA arrangements than there are in prison

Last week the Ministry of Justice and the Office for National Statistics published the annual report on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements for 2022/23. Although MAPPA has only been in existence since 2003 and despite the surge in the prison population in the last year, there remain more people supervised under its arrangements than there are people in prison. On 31 March this year, there were 91,040 offenders under MAPPA management in the community in England and Wales (compared to 84,367 people in prison on the same date).

First established in 2003, Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) are a set of statutory arrangements to assess and manage the risk posed by certain sexual and violent offenders. MAPPA bring together the Police, Probation and Prison Services into what is known as the MAPPA Responsible Authority for each MAPPA Area (using police force boundaries) to manage serious (mainly sexual and violent) offenders to minimise the risk they pose to the public.

A number of other agencies are under a duty to co-operate with the Responsible Authority. These include: Children’s Services, Adult Social Services, Health Trusts and Authorities, Youth Offending Teams, Home Office Immigration Enforcement, local housing authorities and certain registered social landlords, Jobcentre Plus, and electronic monitoring providers.

Offenders eligible for MAPPA are identified and information is gathered and shared about them across relevant agencies. The nature and level of the risk of harm they pose is assessed and a coordinated risk management plan is implemented to protect the public.

The period an offender remains a MAPPA offender varies significantly. Some will be MAPPA offenders for life and some for less than six months. The period will be dependent upon the offence committed and the sentence imposed.

There are three broad categories of offenders under MAPPA: Category 1 - Registered sexual offenders (RSO), Category 2 - Violent offenders and Category 3 - Other Dangerous Offenders. There are also three management levels which reflect the level of multi-agency co-operation required to implement the individual offender’s risk management plan effectively. Those offenders supervised on Level 1 are typically supervised by the police or probation service alone although these agencies will share information about them. The risk management plans for Level 2 offenders require the active involvement of several agencies via regular multi-agency public protection meetings which oversee the implementation of a coordinated risk management plan. For offenders managed at Level 3, the active involvement of several agencies is required; however, the risks presented by offenders managed at this level are such that senior staff from the agencies involved are required to authorise the use of additional resources, such as specialised accommodation.

Latest figures

There were increases in Category 1 and Category 3, a decrease in Category 2, and the creation of a new Category 4 which relates to terrorist or terrorist risk offenders.

The MAPPA population at the end of March this year increased by 1,602 (2%) on last year, accounted for by an increase of 1,616 in Category 1, a decrease of 407 in Category 2, an increase of 147 in Category 3, and 246 offenders who now fall into the new Category 4. The scale of the recent increases becomes clear when we realise that the March 2023 figure is an increase of 51% in the MAPPA population since 2013.

People supervised on Category 1 account for three quarters of the MAPPA population. The number of people being convicted of sexual offences and the requirement for many of those convicted to register for long periods of time, very largely explain the high numbers in Category 1 and the big increase in the MAPPA caseload over the last decade.

However, the average annual increase in the Category 1 population over the last five years is lower than it was before 2017/18, partly due to fewer people being convicted of sexual offences since a peak in 2017 and more people coming off notification requirements. Notification requirements began in 1997, with the threshold for adults lowering in 2004 as a result of the Sexual Offenders Act 2003.

Management levels

However, it is the levels at which MAPPA offenders are managed which is of most interest to practitioners with Level 2 and 3 offenders requiring much more time and resources. The overwhelming majority (currently 98%, the same as last year and at least 97% since 2014) of MAPPA offenders continue to be managed at Level 1. On 31 March 2023, 89,489 offenders were being managed at Level 1, 2% higher than in last year and 42% higher than in 2014.

About 76% of those managed at Level 1 are Category 1 offenders, with the remainder almost all Category 2 offenders. Category 3 offenders cannot be managed at Level 1 as they only qualify for MAPPA if they require multi-agency management to be overseen by a formal meeting at level 2 or 3.

For the first time, Category 3 forms the largest category (36%) of those managed at Level 2, coinciding with the historically large increase in Category 3 offenders in the last year. Each of Category 1 and Category 2 constitutes about 31% of those managed at Level 2.

Serious further offending

Serious Case Reviews are mandatory where an offender managed by any agency at either MAPPA Level 2 or 3 is charged with committing or attempting to commit an offence of murder, manslaughter or rape. They are also done on a discretionary basis in some other circumstances.

The number of serious case reviews increased from 6 to 10 in the latest year, having decreased from 15 in the previous year. This number remains relatively low, demonstrating the fact that is more often low and medium risk offenders who commit serious further offences, in (possibly large) part because they do not receive the intensive supervision which Level 2 and 3 MAPPA cases do.

 Licence recalls for those managed at Levels 2 and 3 also increased (by 19%) to 1,037, partly due to increases in general recalls and increases in the number of offenders managed annually at Levels 2 and Levels 3.